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Top 10 Games With Permadeath

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Shane Oliver Sometimes death makes a game better. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Video Games with Permadeath. Permadeath is a game mechanic which makes it so that when a player-controlled character dies, they cannot respawn or otherwise return. For this list, we’re limiting our picks to those where permadeath is part of the standard experience. Sorry Diablo, no optional hardcore modes here. Special Thanks to our user "Alvaro Salvagno" for suggesting this topic on our Interactive Suggestion Tool WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Shane Oliver

Top 10 Games with Permadeath


Sometimes death makes a game better. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Video Games with Permadeath.

Permadeath is a game mechanic which makes it so that when a player-controlled character dies, they cannot respawn or otherwise return. For this list, we’re limiting our picks to those where permadeath is part of the standard experience. Sorry Diablo, no optional hardcore modes here.

#10: “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six” (1998)

When it comes to tactical shooters, Rainbow Six practically wrote the book. Often credited along with Ghost Recon with creating the genre, Rainbow Six raises the stakes by giving each of your soldiers just one life. During a time when shooters were more about blowing everything up than strategy, Rainbow Six gave gamers a break from the carnage, offering up a more thoughtful, methodical experience. Overseeing a small unit of soldiers, it calls for careful planning and timely commands as one misstep could results in a permanent loss to the squad.

#9: “Don’t Starve” (2013)

The name says it all. Tossed into a randomly generated, Tim Burton inspired world, scientist Wilson must survive for as long as possible. As you gather supplies and keep fed, time is always advancing. When night comes, it brings with it an assortment of unsavory beasts. The game’s sandbox mode allows players to tailor the game to their tastes with options for the length of the day/night cycle, world size and frequency of various in-game events. When death means starting over, it’s nice to have exactly the world you want.

#8: “Valkyria Chronicles” (2008)

This rich, emotional tale follows Welkin Gunther and Squad 7 as they attempt to retake their small home country, Gallia, from evil Imperial forces. Stepping away from the traditional grid-based movement usually found in turn-based strategy games, Valkyria Chronicles mashes up its strategy RPG base with a third-person shooter. While there aren’t as many unit types as other similar games, each plays a unique role on the battlefield. Finding the perfect balance can mean the difference between easy victory and a bitter struggle.

#7: “Rogue Legacy” (2013)

The goal of any good roguelike is to make it so no run feels wasted; that every life is a chance to make the next one better. When you die in Rogue Legacy your next hero is a choice from three possible descendants, each with their own quirky sets of traits. These include dyslexia, which scrambles in-game dialogue, and clumsiness, causing you to automatically destroy any breakables you pass. Persistent upgrades make each run easier, but the challenges that lie in wait are not so easily overcome.

#6: “The Oregon Trail” (1971)

Designed to teach schoolchildren about 19th century pioneer life, this classic PC game has graced many a classroom since its original release. As the leader of a group of settlers, you must guide your party along the titular trail while trying to keep everyone alive. It’s nearly impossible for everyone to make it, but hey, at least that’s realistic. It’s hard to tell if the creators wanted us to have fun. It seems that way until your entire party tragically crap themselves to death. Died of dysentery. Ah, the memories. So good.

#5: “Final Fantasy Tactics” (1998)

A Final Fantasy of a different sort, Tactics offers a more, well, tactical experience for the franchise while preserving its reputation for presentation and story. Set in the world of Ivalice after a decades-long war and the beginning of another, it follows the exploits of a young noble amidst a bitter struggle for power. Every unit is a mass of potential with the game’s branching job system, featuring both classics and newcomers. Boasting a combat system that stays true to the series while retaining individuality, Tactics is a spin-off done right.

#4: “Heavy Rain” (2010)

Less a game and more an interactive drama, Heavy Rain tells the tale of four people as they attempt to track down the elusive Origami Killer, notorious for leaving paper cranes at his murder scenes. The story is tailored to your actions and has different outcomes depending on which of the characters make it to the end. While many games give you the urge to reload after a death, it's worth seeing the different ways the story unfolds on multiple playthroughs if one character dies too early. Kind of like having a set of parallel universes to explore as you please.

#3: “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” (2012)

In this strategy reboot, you lead the forces of an underground government-funded project to study and combat the extra-terrestrial menace plaguing the earth. Panic spreads quickly across the globe and ignoring missions in any region for too long may result in countries pulling out from the XCOM project. Not only must you keep your soldiers alive, you must properly manage a global crisis by allocating resources and combating the constant threat of UFOs. Because this is essentially a turn based RPG, your soldiers level up and get more powerful as the game goes on, so losing one of your best is a truly crushing experience. Even injured soldiers can be bad news – sure they will heal, but they’re all the more likely to panic in combat the next time things start to look bad.

#2: “FTL: Faster Than Light” (2012)

One would think running a ship and crew through eight procedurally generated hostile sectors of space would be easy. Go figure. As you make your way through rebel-controlled space to return to Galactic Federation headquarters you will encounter both friend and foe. Several ship systems need to be managed, both in and out of combat, and you have limited crew, and power, to work on them. This being a roguelike, dying means starting all over again – there are no saves or checkpoints you can revert to whatsoever. It’s a deeply challenging experience, but with practice FTL is a meaty and rewarding game worth your efforts.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are some honorable mentions.
“NetHack”
“Rogue”
“Spelunky”

#1: “Fire Emblem: Awakening” (2013)

A brilliant entry in Nintendo’s premiere strategy series, Awakening is a true testament to the genre. Led by Prince Chrom, the Shepherds are a hand-picked group of soldiers who valiantly defend their country from all manner of threats. Each member’s distinct personality and potential relationships makes losing even one of them hit hard. Characters can marry, and through some time-travel magic, their future children become available units later on. Awakening’s diverse cast and time-tested battle system make it a must play for any permadeath fans and 3DS owners.

Do you agree with our list? What games leave you dying for more? For more invigorating top tens published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com
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